By Guest Blogger Adam Witten

When’s the last time you had a spare 30 minutes?  Can you count those occurrences in the past week on one hand?

Like many of you, I’m a working parent and spare time has been as rare as an easy bedtime with my four-year old son. Then, when I’m not working or spending time with my family, I’m trying to get some exercise and tackle whatever is needed around the house — dishes, bills (sleep?) and the perpetual cleaning of the playroom. All of which leave very little time to experience some of the other things I enjoy in life.

I am therefore grateful for my technological discovery at an airport a few years ago. Without a book or movie available, I needed some entertainment (sleeping on a plane is never an option for me) and decided to give this whole “podcast” phenomenon a whirl. By the time the plane touched down, I was hooked. The best way I can describe the concept is that it’s like Netflix in an audio format — on-demand content on just about any topic in which you might be interested.

Here’s how it works. If you own an iPhone, like me, you have a podcast app already installed on your device. Just open it up and search the 250,000 options of shows by just typing in what you like. If you type craft beer, you’ll find a ton of shows that attempt to educate an audience on the finer points of the New England IPA.  Then, you can read the descriptions of each podcast, sample them yourself, and decide if you want to hear more. Every show can be played whenever YOU want and it’s all totally FREE. When you do find the right show, you can subscribe (also free), which sets you up to automatically download and receive notifications when new episodes are available.

If you have an Android device, you can follow similar steps through the Google Play Music store or through other popular podcast apps like Stitcher.

Here’s why it works.  Stephen Dubner, host of Freakonomics, one of my favorite podcasts, calls the podcast “The perfect activity for modern multitasking. When you’ve always got the device that can play it, and you’re often doing something that you need your eyes or part of your body.”  So, when I can’t find that 30 minutes to watch something on TV or read stories on my computer, I can fire up a podcast and enjoy whatever I want while doing the dishes or when I’m driving in the car and audio content is my only option for entertainment. And wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy sitting in the carpool line at school?

Give it a try and maybe, like me, you’ll find that it’s a super easy and convenient way to learn something new, hear a good story or enjoy a few laughs.

Here are a few leads on what to try:

  • If you search “moms” on apple podcasts, some of the interesting returns are “Momscast”, “Moms On A Mission and “The Children’s Corner”
  • My wife, like more than 80 million others, got hooked on the Serial podcast from This American Life. And we both enjoyed their spinoff series called “S-Town”
  • Nobody is doing podcasts better than NPR. Along with This American Life originating from their station in Chicago, they also produce popular shows like Radiolab, Fresh Air and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!
  • As the platform grows, many celebrities and authors have migrated to podcasting as their communication vehicle. Tim Ferriss and Malcolm Gladwell have shows that I’ve enjoyed listening to recently.
  • Some of my favorites are the aforementioned Freakonomics, The Dan Le Batard Show, Listen Money Matters and some specialized shows on my favorite teams (App State football, Tampa Bay Rays) and TV shows (Game of Thrones).

Just like music and videos, iTunes gives you top charts where you can see the most popular shows in a variety of topics.

Today’s blogger, Adam, with his wife Nicole, and sons Mason (18 months) and Eli (age 4) .

And finally, a plug for some local content. About a year ago, I started the Triad Podcast Network to aggregate information and advice from local people and businesses. For example, we offer discussion on local craft beer with Juggheads in Winston-Salem, fitness tips with a local personal trainer, stories on local chefs with triadfoodies, financial advice with a local certified financial planner and even college prep with a Winston-based college admission coach.

Check it out by searching Triad Podcast Network wherever you find your shows or get our complete library here.

Happy listening!